Honesty In Beautiful Belgrade, Serbia

Belgrade was a city neither of us had ever been to before, and we weren’t quite sure what to expect.

We were curious to see what the city would look like, and what our impression of the people would be. We were wondering if the remnants from the war that were so present in Sarajevo would be similar in Belgrade.

So when we finally arrived we no longer had to wonder – our first impression of Belgrade was that of a clean, beautiful modern city.

And although there were exceptions, most people here dressed so fashionable that we almost felt a bit out of place. There were more shoe shops than I could count and I wasn’t the only one drooling over the impossibly high heels in the shop windows.

People in Belgrade seemed to follow the small rules that other Eastern European countries ignore, like smoking in designated areas, or waiting for the red light to turn green before crossing a pedestrian crossing.

The latter was unlike anything I had ever seen – everyone, and I mean everyone, waited patiently for the red light to turn green before even thinking of crossing.

It didn’t matter if the road was empty, it didn’t matter if the countdown (yes, there is a number counting down the seconds to when the light changes) has two seconds left before switching to green – they would ALL wait.

Our visit to Belgrade was fun and relaxing, but I won’t lie, we did have a few encounters where people acted very strange to us, and in Kalemegdan park we had up to five guards following/stalking us – watch our Belgrade video tomorrow to see what happened!

We were also questioned by two upset old women who thought we were English and asked us why we bombed them. :S

I’m not at all trying to scare people away from coming here, but I don’t want to sugar coat things either. Belgrade was bombed by NATO in 1999 and obviously some people still hold anger and recentment to it.

It’s good to be aware of things like this and read up on the history of Belgrade so that you know how to deal with it in case it occurs.

Most of the people we met were friendly and talkative, the same straight forward manner as in Sarajevo which after a while we found quite refreshing, I’d rather have someone being straightforward and honest than fake.

If you ask a question, you will get a straight answer, they were not at all afraid to share their opinions, no matter how touchy the subject was.

When you visit Belgrade, don’t miss the chance to order a coffee at a cafe in the Bohemian quarter Skadarlija.

It’s the quaintest place in Belgrade to stop for a coffee break, and you will be served a huge plate of assorted Serbian sweets to go with your coffee – for free!

We don’t know if this is the case at every cafe in Belgrade, but if you go to “Three Hats” this is guaranteed ;)

Have you been to Belgrade? What were your impressions of the city?

26 Responses to Honesty In Beautiful Belgrade, Serbia

  1. Renee — RambleCrunch August 27, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Yes! I can totally relate to this post.

    We recently stopped in Belgrade while driving our RV from Croatia to Turkey. We didn’t stay long, just an hour or so, and it blew my mind to stop in a city that I still associate with NATO bombing. We pulled off into a small commercial district tucked inside a larger residential area, and then left the camper in search of food.

    I had no idea what to expect, but we found a small sandwich place selling grilled paninis, and the folks behind the counter (an old man and several young girls) seemed really surprised we were there. Though we didn’t share a common language, they were all smiles and tried to ask us questions about where we came from and what on earth we were doing at their small stand. We managed to communicate that were are both American and Canadian, but that’s about it. They took special care of us and guided us gently through the ordering process (there was a crowd so it was a bit confusing), and all gave us big waves as we were leaving. They seemed so pleased that we were there, I’ll never forget it.

    Afterward we left the city, but needless to say, my impressions of Belgrade were 100% different after that stop.

    • Sofia - As We Travel August 28, 2011 at 6:35 am #

      I love when that happens, when your presumptions of a place turn out to be completely different from what you expected.

      Driving from Croatia to Turkey sounds like a cool experience, which country was the most fun and/or beautiful to drive through?

      • Renee — RambleCrunch August 28, 2011 at 7:46 am #

        Actually we’ve spent the last four months driving with our daughter from Amsterdam to Turkey. All the countries on our route (the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Turkey) have been great in their own way. Serbia and Bulgaria were the toughest because they don’t have a lot of campsites and we had to freecamp the whole way (no electricity, laundry or internet).

        Turkey, where we’re spending three months waiting out the Schengen visa, is definitely one of our favorites.

        • Sofia - As We Travel August 28, 2011 at 10:31 am #

          That sounds even better! ;) Turkey was also one of our favorites during our Europe Train Challenge this summer, Istanbul was fantastic!

          • bettyboop October 24, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

            I am really nice time in Belgrade, night life is also excellent

  2. Slobodan Rudic August 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    “People in Belgrade seemed to follow the small rules that other Eastern European countries ignore, like smoking in designated areas, or waiting for the red light to turn green before crossing a pedestrian crossing.” 
    – Last year our government apply a low with enormous fines if you brake it. The thing is that many people did, and still doing this, so you first have to look for the “blue” light (police officers) and than to cross a street.”We were also questioned by two upset old women who thought we were English and asked us why we bombed them.” – Craaaaaaaaaaaaaaazy :D :D :D

    • Sofia - As We Travel August 28, 2011 at 6:38 am #

      Thanks Slobodan for explaining why they wait for the green light, it makes more sense now, haha.

      You can check out today’s video to see the women questioning us, pretty funny ^^

    • Renee — RambleCrunch August 28, 2011 at 7:47 am #

      I didn’t know that. Very interesting.

    • Pera September 9, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

      What you think, why people follows rules in the other countries?

  3. Staci K. August 29, 2011 at 6:33 am #

    I miss that place!  Was living there the last 2 months this summer until a broken arm forced me to return back to the USA sooner than expected, but yea, I loved that city. 

    As for the crossing the street, it depends if there’s police or not.  It still happens, although the majority wait, including me.

    I will definitely be back to Beograd.

    • Sofia - As We Travel August 29, 2011 at 12:24 pm #

      I can see why you loved Belgrade, a wonderful city.

      Sorry to hear about your arm, hope you’re ok now..!

      • Dowla87 September 4, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

        Hi Sophia, I am so happy that you enjoyed Belgrade:). I saw your video its excellent!:) Anyway you should be back, because there are plenty things to see that you missed (maybe). Like, St.Sava’s temple, then amazing beach called Ada Ciganlija, and austro-hungarian part of the city called Zemun.

        • Dowla87 September 4, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

          ps. check out this video I think it’s good too http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvzKSqBa11U&feature=player_embedded#!

      • Dowla87 September 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

        p.s. you can check this video,i think is good too http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvzKSqBa11U&feature=player_embedded#!

  4. Lori - The Unframed World August 31, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Sounds and looks like a lovely place to visit. I don’t do well when confronted by strangers (like the old ladies that approached you) but knowing it could happen would help a lot. Now I’ll be aware if I do have the chance to visit someday =)

  5. Vladan Nikolic September 1, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Hi Sofia,

    I’m glad you enjoyed Belgrade. 
    The question of that old lady was stupid. “Why do you bomb as?” Oh my goodness! It was NATO, goverments of certain countries, NOT American or English or some other people!
    So, welcome to Serbia!

    http://youtu.be/OhM9Hp6Gy8A

    Cheers!

    Vladan

  6. Sithonia Greece September 6, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

    Serbia really is a lot more fun than you’d expect. I just love the pleskavitsa (hamburger). I’d advice anybody who decides to see Kosovo as well, not to accept a stamp in their passport. This would prevent them from re-entering Serbia for as long as they use that passport… Kind of stupid, but good to know.

  7. Miljana March 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

    I really enjoy your article, especially since its very interesting to hear what foreigners have to say about Belgrade.
    Here is a link for a website about Belgrade that can be usefull in case you decide to come again :)
    http://www.belgradian.com

  8. Olja April 15, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    Hi Sofia,

    Great little video, thoroughly enjoyed it!

    Here, this may help explain the security guards’ reaction at the Kalemegdanska tvrdjava:

    http://www.belgradian.com/useful-information/public-photographing/

    All the best,
    Olja

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